As part of its “Malvinas noose tightening” policy the Argentine government is planning an international tender to offer licenses to explore for oil near the Falkland Islands, reports Buenos Aires main daily Clarin in its Monday edition, citing a letter to Congress by Cabinet chief Juan Manuel Abal Median.
Apparently the international bidding process will be carried out by Enarsa, Argentina’s state owned energy company and will be based on a seismic and geological report contracted by Enarsa with GC Technology Corporation under a plan called “Argentine Span”.
Accordingly the program is oriented to obtaining improved geo-physics data and an integral offshore geology profile and included the purchase of 2D seismic data covering an area of 11.000 square kilometres of the Argentine continental shelf. The whole operation had a cost of 42 million dollars says Clarin, but all the “information is registered to Enarsa”.
The message from Abal Medina to Congress indicates that the overall study will enable a more exact description and assessment of the involved basins in the platform helping to determine “prospective zones” for the accumulation of gas and oil resources.
Clarin says that although all the data is under a commercial confidentiality veil, “it is expected the Argentine government will be tendering 24 prospective areas”.
However following the seizure of a majority in YPF from Spain’s Repsol the Argentine government “is waiting for a better political moment for the national and international bidding process which undoubtedly will have an impact on the tense relation with Great Britain” over the disputed Falklands/Malvinas and surrounding waters.
Clarin then adds that since Brazil discovered huge reserves of oil and gas off Sao Paulo state and further south, “Brasilia changed its diplomatic strategy towards the South Atlantic”. In effect if the estimated reserves turn into proven, Brazil is expected to become an oil producer to the tune of Venezuela and Nigeria, according to Petrobras, and since the ramifications of those resources could extend along the Argentine continental platform, “Brazilian diplomacy does not want a foreign colonial power such as Great Britain exploiting a vital resource for the region”.
Clarin speculates that if oil is found in the waters located beyond the control of the UK, Argentina will have a real geopolitical tool used in a hypothetical negotiation with Great Britain.
An interesting side story of the announcement is that the person who currently heads Enarsa is Exequiel Espinosa who back in 2007 was on board the private jet that flew to Argentina from Venezuela with Venezuelan-US national Antonini Wilson who was caught with a suitcase containing 800.000 US dollars. Fearing for his life Antonini Wilson, who later proved to be a carrier of cash and messages between Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and the Kirchner couple and some programs in Uruguay, fearing for his life took refuge in the US with his family where he apparently exchanged information for safety.
The money allegedly was to help finance the first presidential campaign of Cristina Fernandez. Antonini Wilson was a prominent member of the new “Bolivarian bourgeois” close to Chavez, which have become millionaires overnight on government contracts and perks.
Following the incident Cristina Fernandez, just a few months ahead of her first election, was furious and declared it was a “US Department ploy” to “frame her” and froze relations with Washington for several months.